Industry offering shops incentives to put chocolates & cigarettes in same box

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Report exposes how children are tempted to smoke

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—In a national survey conducted by consumer rights group TheNetwork for Consumer Protection it has been revealed that the multinational cigarette manufacturing companies are systematically targeting children as young as six years old by using various aggressive marketing techniques. These tactics include placement of advertisements on shops selling candies/chocolates or selling them directly outside the gates of primary and secondary schools throughout Pakistan.
The report was launched in the presence of the stakeholders at a local hotel. On the occasion TheNetwork for Consumer Protection shared the key findings of the national survey conducted in schools in 6 major cities of Pakistan i.e. Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta. There as many as 500 Point of Sales (shops) of cigarettes were monitored. This is first of its kind of survey conducted in Pakistan to expose marketing techniques used by tobacco companies i.e. PTC and PMI to attract young generation towards tobacco use.
The senior officials of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), parliamentarians, representatives of NGOs and civil society endorsed the viewpoint of theNetwork to stop the multinational cigarette manufacturing giants from deceptive marketing practices and selling techniques which attracted small children towards tobacco products at retail shops near schools.
The report was acknowledged by coalition of tobacco-control advocates, education officials, child protective civil society organizations and others.
In her presentation, Dr Maria Qureshi of TheNetwork shared that the egregious marketing tactics of PTC and PMI is a clear violation of the law.
The survey further disclosed that the most available Brands (nationwide) included Gold Leaf, Capstan, Red & White.
The astonishing results of the survey revealed that 83 percent shops having Powerwalls/Cigarettes behind the cash counter, 52pc Shops having cigarettes inside Glass Counters, 50pc shops place Cigarettes with candies/snacks, 14pc Shops giving “Limited time Offers” or “Free gifts on purchase of cigarettes and 89% shops do not Display “ NO sale to MINORS signage”, Dr Maria added.
During the ceremony, small children shared their practical experiences about the selling of tobacco products along with sweets and candies etc. A small child Bakar Raza informed that he was attracted to cigarette at a shop as the tobacco products were prominently displayed on the shops.
Another five years old girl Alina Iqbal shared her experience of a shop where red and blue boxes of cigarettes were placed with chocolate packs and children were attracted to the red/blue boxes prominently displayed on the shops.
Two small children Muhammad Rabi and Iman Javed also objected that, ‘why shopkeepers are displaying cigarette packs side by side of chocolate and candies”.
A young girl Laiba Akhtar highlighted, “I went to a shop and asked for a cigarette pack. The seller immediately handed over me a cigarette pack without asking my age or any question. Astonishingly, shopkeepers are also selling cigarettes to girls”.